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What’s needed to drive freight industry after downgrade

The South African truck market has showed ongoing resilience despite the country’s downgrade to a junk status investment rating by Standard and Poors’ Global Ratings Agency.

However, it is yet to be seen whether the downgrade whether growth within the industry will remain or be eroded.

“The next few months will be critical in determining the path we as a country will follow and leadership in all spheres of business, but mostly in government will be the key,” Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa said.  “As the adage goes ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman)’ will now be more relevant than ever,” he added. “A consolidated road freight industry is therefore needed to drive reform and advancement in the sector, as well as in the larger economy.”

Latest vehicle sales

According to the latest results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), Associated Motor Holdings (AMH) and Amalgamated Automobile Distributors (AAD), the total truck market increased by a significant 16.9% month-on-month, to record 2,618 new truck sales.

This brings the market’s year-to-date total to 6 416 new trucks for the first quarter of 2017, a 3.9% increase over the same period last year.

During the first three months of the year, sales in the medium commercial vehicle segment grew by 3.3% to 1,993 units compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Sales in the heavy commercial vehicle segment increased by 11.9% to 1,355 units, while the extra heavy commercial segment grew by 2.2% to 2,837 units.

Only the bus segment remained in the red with a 10.5% decline in sales, to a total of 231 new units sold so far this year.

“Even amidst all the turbulence, we believe that the dust will settle and the steady slog towards growth in the truck industry will begin once more,” Swanepoel said.  “We still expect the South African commercial vehicle market to grow marginally by an estimated 3% during 2017, to around 28,998 units.”

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